It was an evening that saw 20 of the leading Indian CEOs being honoured. Business Today kicked off its annual two-day MindRush business conclave on Friday with an awards function recognising the work and efforts of Indian corporate brains in not just guiding the fortunes of their organisations but also setting examples of corporate excellence for others.
Aroon Purie, Chairman and Editor-in-chief of the India Today Group, set the ball rolling. Purie said the Indian economy is at a tipping point where it is slowly turning around after several dismal years.
Extending a warm welcome to the packed house of almost 150 CEOs from companies across industries, Purie highlighted the uptick in sentiment in corporate India and enumerated several points that indicate a turnaround may just be round the corner.
He said that GDP growth of 5.7 per cent for the first quarter of 2014/15 is the highest in two-and-a-half years.
He also said that inflation has been easing, helped by a 30 per cent drop in crude oil prices in the past year, and that factory output is inching up.
"There are encouraging signs that the worst may be behind us," he said.
"Leading a company is a complicated business. It is not only about getting financial returns to satisfy the shareholders but about strategic vision, customer engagement, employee satisfaction, company reputation and responsibility to the community in which you operate. A successful CEO, therefore, is multi-talented person to play all the roles he has to play and show a good profit."
Purie congratulated all the winners and said it all boils down to leadership. "You get good leadership and the course of history can be changed as we have seen so often. Unfortunately, the reverse is equally true. It can take decades to undo the sins of bad leadership," he said.
Sharing his success mantras that helped him in trying times, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) CEO N. Chandrasekaran said that the company decentralized aggressively during the economic meltdown of 2008/2009 as part of efforts to improve efficiency.
The $13.4 billion company was split into many smaller business units, and top management travelled around the globe interacting with customers.
"The tablet revolution was taking shape. We identified five technologies and invested in them, adopted them," the CEO said.
TCS also edged on its 200,000 employees to aspire more and realize their potential, said the CEO, popularly known as Chandra.
When asked by Purie how he planned to stay on the top, Chandra said: "You got to be paranoid... There is a culture of entitlement versus the culture of performance. We believe in the culture of performance. Nobody takes anything for granted."
The awards ceremony began with Business Today Editor Prosenjit Datta explaining the methodology of selecting the winners for this year to a huge gathering of corporate leaders.
Datta said that in choosing the winners, several performance parameters were taken into consideration. Only companies with more than Rs 1,000 crore revenue in the BT500 - BT's listing of the country's most valuable companies by average market capitalization from April to September-were included in the study.
A total of 20 winners were awarded in 22 categories. The awards were presented by Purie, management guru Ram Charan, and Manpreet Singh Chadha, Vice Chairman at Wave Group.
Anand Mahindra, Chairman and MD of Mahindra & Mahindra, was awarded two awards-Best CEO (Very Large Companies) and Best CEO (Auto & Auto Ancillaries - Large Companies). IT major TCS' CEO N. Chandrasekaran also won two awards - Best CEO (Very Large Companies) and Best CEO (IT & ITES - Large Companies).
Other prominent winners of the evening included G.V. Prasad, Co-Chairman & CEO, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, winner of Best CEO - Large Companies; Siddhartha Lal, MD & CEO, Eicher Motors, winner of Best CEO (Mid-sized Companies - Auto & Auto Ancillaries); H.M. Bangur, MD, Shree Cement, winner of Best CEO (Mid-sized Companies -Cement); and Keki Mistry, Vice Chairman & CEO, HDFC, winner of Best CEO (Large Companies - Financial Services); Harsh C. Mariwala, Chairman, Marico, winner of Best CEO (Mid-sized companies - FMCG); G.M. Rao, Founder and Chairman, GMR Group, winner of Best CEO (Mid-sized companies - Infra & Engineering); Glenn Saldanha, Chairman and MD, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, winner of Best CEO (Mid-sized companies - Pharma and Healthcare); and Himanshu Kapania, MD, Idea Cellular, winner of Best CEO (Large Companies - Telecom).
Sharing his thoughts, Saldanha said success in R&D is linked to getting together various components in business - from having a model that funds costly R&D to creating a culture in the organisation that promotes innovation.
"Creating a culture that promotes innovation is crucial," he said. Patience is also important to create and run a research-driven pharma company, according to Saldanha. For instance, he pointed out, it can take anywhere between 15-20 years for a single molecule to receive marketing approval.
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